Heidelberg, Germany: Weird, Beautiful, and Historic

Photos of Heidelberg by Curt and Peggy Mekemson.
If you’ve been hanging around my blog for long, you know I like weird. This brass Heidelberg monkey fits the bill perfectly.

When Peggy and I, along with our two kids and their families, did our Rhine River trip this past summer, one of our favorite stops was Heidelberg, Germany. It seemed to have it all: An ancient castle looking down on the city, a river running beside it, one of the top universities in the world, a fun, lively, historic downtown, impressive churches, and plenty of weird, like the brass monkey who hung out next to the Old Bridge across the Neckar River. The photos are all taken by Peggy and me unless otherwise noted. Today, we will be focus on weird.

The monkey was designed to serve as a mask for those bold enough to climb into it. Our grandson Connor took on the challenge. A poem suggested the possibility of one monkey looking out at all of the other monkeys standing around, a reminder that we are alike more than we are different. The pedestrian Old Bridge across the Neckar River can be seen in the background on the right. (Family photo.)
Photos of Heidelberg by Curt and Peggy Mekemson.
These brass mice were found next to the monkey. It is said if you rubbed them, you would increase your fertility. Rubbing the mirror the monkey is holding will bring you money, rubbing its fingers will help assure your return to Heidelberg. I stayed far away from the mice.

I found plenty of other weird stuff around Heidelberg to keep the monkey and his mice companions company.

Photos of Heidelberg by Curt and Peggy Mekemson.
“These boots were made for walking.” Blue boots and a plethora of other blue shoes covered the town’s main square.
Photos of Heidelberg by Curt and Peggy Mekemson.
The blue shoes, it turned out, were an art project of students from the University of Heidelberg. They seemed to be all walking in the same direction. Maybe they were escaping the weird sculpture behind them…
Photos of Heidelberg by Curt and Peggy Mekemson.
It was amply strange. Check out the ‘guy’ standing on his head with his feet becoming the head of a serpent and his head who knows. And what the heck is on the left? I’ll leave it for your imagination.
I found this walking lion with his wonderful tail up in Heidelberg Castle. A magnificent, but weird, creature, indeed, complete with a curly mane and globus cruciger, i.e. cross-bearing orb. Both were symbols of power in the Middle Ages. Think church and state.
Photos of Heidelberg by Curt and Peggy Mekemson.
This knight with shining armor, features a codpiece. A what, you say? Cod apparently meant scrotum. Originally meant to protect the genital area, they became something of a fashion statement reaching maximum size and um, peak, in the 1540s.
Photos of Heidelberg by Curt and Peggy Mekemson.
While I’m on cod, there seems to be something fishy about this fish. It appears to have a coin in its mouth. I looked up ‘fish with coin in mouth.’ Apparently it relates to Jesus and the miracle of the fish outlined in the Gospel of Matthew. I wondered if the strange baby romping around on top was supposed to be the baby Jesus. Christianity in the Middle Ages was all about symbolism, mainly because most people couldn’t read.
Photos of Heidelberg taken by Curt and Peggy Mekemson.
Nothing weird about this if you are a Catholic. It’s the Virgin Mary with her crown of 12 stars holding the baby Jesus. She is stomping on a serpent while the baby Jesus stabs it with his cross. “Take that you snake!” He is blessing the world with his free hand. It looks to me like the serpent has an apple in its mouth. There were several of these statues spread around the historic town.
Photos of Heidelberg by Curt and Peggy Mekemson.
On a lighter note, how do you like your wine? If you prefer quantity over quality, this wine barrel might be your thing. It’s said to be the largest in the world and hold 220,000 liters (58,124 gallons). Our grandson Ethan provides perspective on the size. That does it for today. My next Heidelberg post will be more focused on the beauty and history of the city. First up, however, Peggy and I will take you back to Yellowstone and its geysers including Old Faithful.

31 thoughts on “Heidelberg, Germany: Weird, Beautiful, and Historic

  1. They do like weird over there too, I see. That huge keg would surely give me one heck of a stomach ache!! But it looks like you all had a grand time.

  2. You def get the wildly weird prize with your great pics Curt. First of the monkey looks like a cat.. just saying. 12 crown, a biz-zillion blue shoes are quite remarkable.. did you find one that fit?
    12 crowns and a serpent doing headstands? wow. Love all of the pics of your grandson Connor in the barrel. How much did you all drink.. Is he holding up the barrel or the barrel holding him.. lol. Great to see you having fun alway. Great post always Curt! 💗

  3. I suspect there was often something fishy about the size of gentlemen’s cod pieces back in the day. The blue shoes? Sometimes I just don’t understand “art.”

    We also thought Heidelberg was a neat town. I was a little surprised that I couldn’t find a good selection of German beer there though. Guess I should have been looking for wine.

    • I was wondering if the knight was drawing his sword because someone challenged the size of his codpiece, Dave.
      We didn’t go in search of German beer, Dave. So I didn’t check that out. But then again, our riverboat featured free German beer so we didn’t have to.
      As I told Linda, Elvis would have like the blue shoes.

  4. My favorite of all the sculptures were the mice. Other pieces were immensely interesting, but they didn’t have the appeal of those little creatures. I will say that, weird or not, those older sculptures generally had much more appeal than the blue shoes. They brought to mind one of my favorite sayings: “Just because you can do something doesn’t mean you should.”

    Seeing how close Heidelberg is to Mannheim, I can’t help wondering if you saw a steamroller or two!

    • Well certainly, the mice looked like mice, Linda.

      Like you, I find the older sculptures fascinating but there was something about the blue shoes that I found appealing. (Does that make me weird?) Maybe it was the total strangeness of the setting. I’ll bet Elvis with his blue suede shoes would have felt right at home.

      Talking Mannheim Steamrollers, you are talking about one of Peggys favorite groups. We have several albums.

  5. Great post Curt! I love your appreciation of weird. What’s weird to me is that the Heidelburg Monkey does not look like a monkey, but sort of like a cat with monkey paws. I would have steered clear of the mice as well. Yeeks. Those blue shoes are beautiful, and I agree with Dave that I just don’t understand art. Shoreacres’ comment “Just because you can do something doesn’t mean you should” made me laugh out loud. I honestly do love looking at art, but it rarely has meaning for me. (I once told my art loving friend that the greatest value in Jackson Pollock’s work would be if he used colours that went with my decor. My friend was aghast.) I was immediately tempted to put my feet into some of those shoes.

    • If the shoe fits… Right. No more monkeying around. Put it on. 🙂 The monkey did involve a fair amount of artistic license.
      I agree. I’m sure that the artist of the fountain sculpture had some deep meaning in mind, perhaps a comment on the state of the world. What’s fun, however, is you are free to interpret as you want. Kind of like petroglyphs. Grin.

  6. That does look like an interesting place, Curt. Some oddities around there, as well as interesting art and history. I have to say the codpiece made me laugh, and that wine barrel is gigantic. I look forward to the next post and seeing the beauty and elegance of the city. 🙂

  7. How interesting, I believe that a part of any development in Germany has to include a percentage of their cost into public pieces of art. Hence the proliferation of so much art, weird or not.
    I prefer that to the proliferations of advertising signage including Colonel KFC, MacDonalds etc. so popular in Australia and I believe also in the US.

    • Yeah, Gerard. Me too! And McD’s and KFC are only the tip of the iceberg.
      When I lived in Sacramento, I remember that developers were required to pay a chunk of money for public art as well. It makes a difference!

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